Faryadi Sarwar Zardad: UK deports warlord who tortured Afghans

Handout photo issued by New Scotland Yard, Monday July 18, 2005, of Afghan warlord Faryadi Zardad Image copyright New Scotland Yard

A former Afghan warlord has been deported by the UK after being jailed for torture during the 1990s civil war.

Faryadi Sarwar Zardad was convicted in 2005 and given 20 years in prison in a landmark trial under a UN torture law.

He had fled to the UK in 1998 on false papers and claimed asylum but was eventually tracked down by the BBC.

About 100 supporters gathered at Kabul airport to greet Zardad, a former leading Hezb-e-Islami commander. Rights campaigners queried his early release.

Image caption Zardad flew into a hero's welcome in Kabul
Image caption Dozens of supporters had gathered to greet him

Zardad was whisked away on arrival at Kabul airport in a fleet of vehicles, Pajhwok news reported.

Human rights groups said his many victims would find the hero's welcome painful to watch.

'Brutal regime'

Zardad fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took power in 1996 and sought political asylum in the UK under a false identity.

He was tracked down by a BBC investigation in 2000 and arrested in 2003.

As there was no request from the Afghan authorities, Britain decided to proceed with a prosecution.

His trial heard how hundreds of thousands of people trying to flee to safety from Kabul were at his mercy.

He had controlled the checkpoint on the Kabul-Nangarhar highway between 1991 and 1996 - the main road between Kabul and Pakistan during some of the heaviest fighting in the civil war.

Sentencing, the judge said he had presided over a brutal regime of terror and his crimes had been so serious that they transcended national boundaries.

It was thought to be the first time torture offences committed in one country had been prosecuted in another.

The British embassy in Kabul refused to comment on his case but said foreign nationals serving custodial sentences in the UK were routinely considered for deportation.

Zardad is currently in the custody of Afghanistan's NDS intelligence agency. Correspondents say there are no plans to bring a case against him.

Earlier this year the Afghan government signed a peace deal with Hezb-e Islami. After the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, it became the country's second largest militant group.

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